According to the Mayo Clinic, menopause is, “the permanent end of menstruation and fertility, defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period.” According to women currently experiencing menopause, it’s actually an evil and viscous trick by Mother Nature. One in which your body almost instantly becomes unrecognizable, as you spend the next several years fighting mood swings and hot flashes, while praying to God that the medication you’re taking to help convince your body it’s actually 33 again, doesn’t give you breast cancer.
As unpleasant as menopause is, it’s a fact of life that every woman will eventually have to deal with. So the question is, is there a way to get through menopause and still feel ‘normal’? While the idea of, ‘normal’ may vary from woman to woman, a study published through Harvard Health, shared a few ideas around dealing with the symptoms of menopause that just might help you feel like your old self again.
Hot flashes: Although hot flashes can begin before menopause is in full swing, this horrible side-effect can last anywhere from 3-5 years. Symptoms include pink or flushed face, an elevated body temperature, moderate to extreme sweating, night sweats and sleep disturbances. While there is no sure way to rid yourself of hot flashes completely, the following approaches are suggested to help alleviate:
- Avoid triggers such as hot beverages, spicy foods, hot rooms, alcohol and stressful situations.
- Dress in layers. This allows you to remove clothing when you become overheated and put them back on once your body has cooled.
- Sleep with an ice pack under your pillow.
- Keep your bedroom a few degrees cooler with a fan or portable air conditioner.
- Reduce stress by doing yoga at night or performing 15 minutes of meditation before bed.
Vaginal changes: Because the estrogen in your body is decreasing, the lining of you vagina becomes thin, creating less natural lubrication in the area. The increased dryness can not only be uncomfortable in day-to-day situations, leading to irritation and inflammation, it can also make sexual intercourse quite unpleasant. To treat vaginal dryness, the following is suggested.
- Use a vaginal lubricant regularly to treat dryness.
- Use a vaginal moisturizer such as Replens, to help keep dryness at bay.
- Use estrogen creams, rings and tablets, to stop dryness before it begins.
In addition to regular treatment, studies also suggest engaging in regular sexual stimulation to maintain vaginal health as well as elasticity.
Irregular bleeding: While some bleeding is normal during the pre-menopausal and menopausal years, it’s important to know when the bleeding isn’t normal. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.
- You have periods that last three days longer than usual.
- You have menstrual cycles that are shorter than 21 days.
- You bleed after intercourse.
- You have heavy monthly bleeding
- You have spotting
For those who are experiencing normal bleeding, here’s some tips to help.
- Speak to your doctor about a certain type of birth control or progestogen to control bleeding.
- Use anti-inflammatory (Advil, Motrin) to control pain.
- Speak to your doctor about thermal and cold therapies to destroy the lining of the uterus and stop the bleeding.
Mood swings and depression: Due to the extreme shift in hormones, many women experience mood swings and depression. Try incorporating these habits to alleviate symptoms:
- Get regular sleep.
- Add exercise to your daily schedule; cardio and strength.
- Add yoga to alleviate stress.
- Incorporate herbal supplements such as St. John’s Wort to help give balance to mood swings.
- Request a mild antidepressant from your doctor to raise serotonin levels and alleviate depressed feelings.
Weight gain: While it seems as though weight gain is a lifelong issue for most women, fighting the, ‘middle aged spread,’ during menopause is almost inevitable. To help you get your sexy back, here are a few suggested tips:
- Add or increase exercise to your daily schedule.
- Focus on cardio exercise; walking, running, swimming, to help prevent fat accumulation around the mid-section.
- Eat healthy. Avoid processed foods, excess refined carbohydrates and excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
Dry skin and hair: No matter what our age, as women we always like to keep our hair and skin in check. However, a decline in estrogen often causes both hair and skin to become a bit dry and dull. To combat, try the following:
- Protect skin from the sun by using sun blocks, hats and protective clothing.
- Use moisturizer daily to hydrate skin.
- Use deep moisturizing conditioners regularly and avoid the overuse of heat styling.
- Use the newest oils, both for skin and hair, to restore gloss and radiance.
While there is no, ‘cure’ for menopause and certainly no way to stop it from coming, you can still live a normal and happy life. By incorporating some of these tips, you can, at the very least, give a shout out to Mother Nature letting her know that she hasn’t quite gotten the best of you yet!